The average person loses 60-100 hairs per day. It’s no wonder we spot hair tumbleweeds in our home.
Apart from collecting on our floors, hair also collects in our drains. While most of those hairs will pass through your drain into the sewer or your septic system, some will get caught and eventually cause a blockage.
Knowing how to unclog a bathroom sink is a valuable skill to have. Whenever your sink, shower, or tub start to drain slowly, you’ll know exactly what to do. No more relying on plumbers!
To learn how to unclog a bathroom sink or tub drain, check out our tips below.
Bent Wire Hanger Method
This is probably the oldest trick to unclog a bathroom sink. It can be surprisingly effective if you are patient.
All you need to do is grab a wire hanger from your closet and straighten it out as much as you can. At one end form a small hook you can use to pull hair out of the drain. You might need to use pliers.
Next, stick the hanger into the drain (hook-side down) and slide the hook past the clog. Use the hook to then pull hair out of the drain.
You’ll need to be patient with this process. Once you get a good amount of hair out of the drain, run the hot water to clear the rest of the clog.
In many cases, soap scum, makeup, and cleansers all add to the hair that’s accumulated in your drain. If you think you have a minimal clog, pouring boiling water down your drain can be an easy way to unclog it.
All you need to do is fill a kettle with as much water as it will hold and boil it. Slowly pour the boiling water down the drain in two or three stages.
The boiling water will help release and wash away any of the soap scum that’s holding the clog together.
You might need to use a plunger if you think the clog in your sink is too far down for you to reach with a hanger. All you’ll need is a clean plunger, a bit of petroleum jelly, and a wet cloth.
To start, cover the overflow opening in the sink with the wet cloth. If you’re unclogging a sink that’s next to another one, you’ll need to cover the overflow outlet of the other one, too.
Next, turn on the tap and fill the sink up with enough water to cover the plunger. Coat the lip of the plunger with petroleum jelly (creates a better seal) and cover the drain with the plunger.
Once you have a good seal, rapidly pump the plunger. You should feel the water moving up and down the drain.
After about a dozen plunges, quickly jerk the plunger up to release the seal. If you’ve dislodged the clog, water should rush down the drain. If not, repeat the steps another two or three times.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar are another non-chemical way to unclog a bathroom sink.
The best way to use this method is to pour about 1/3 of a cup of baking soda down your drain. Slowly pour a 1/3 cup vinegar down the drain.
The chemical reaction will cause the mixture to foam up, so try to keep as much of the foam in the drain as possible. The fizzing helps to loosen the gunk that’s clinging to the pipes.
After you’ve poured in the baking soda and vinegar, let it sit for at least an hour (the longer the better), then come back and run hot water through the drain.
Chemical Drain Cleaner
Many people try to avoid using chemical drain cleaners like Drano because they can corrode the pipes if left alone for too long. However, there can be situations where chemical drain cleaner is necessary.
You should NOT use a chemical drain opener when you have a complete blockage because the chemicals will have nowhere to go. You’ll know if you have a complete blockage if no water at all drains down your sink.
Using a chemical drain opener is appropriate when you have a partial blockage. You’ll be able to tell if your sink is draining slowly.
To use this method, follow the instructions on the bottle. We recommend wearing rubber gloves and turning the vent fan on in your bathroom. You should also not make a chemical drain opener your go-to solution because of its corrosive properties.
Snake It Out
Using a plumber’s snake, also called a cable auger, is one of the most effective ways to unclog a bathroom sink. If you have a full blockage or a clog that’s in the piping beyond your bathroom wall, you’ll need a snake.
First, you’ll need to purchase a cable auger. You can find them at home improvement stores for less than $50.
You can start by snaking the drain pipe through the drain. Sometimes a clog will form at the P-trap (the curved part of the pipe) which you can easily reach from the drain.
If the clog seems farther down the pipe, you might need to remove the trap arm and snake out the drain stub-out. This is the part of the pipe that goes into your wall and out of your home.
If All Else Fails, Call the Plumber
Sometimes when you’ve tried every method to unclog a bathroom sink and they don’t work, you need to call a plumber. Plumbers have all the necessary equipment to get rid of clogs, especially ones that are too far to reach with home-improvement tools.
When the plumber arrives, you can also ask him questions to learn more about how to keep your pipes clog-free.
Unclog a Bathroom Sink Like a Pro
Having several methods in your arsenal will prepare you for when you need to unclog a bathroom sink.
Most methods require a bit of elbow grease like plunging and snaking. Others require you simply pour stuff down the drain and come back in an hour.
And, in some cases, you’ll need to call a plumber. There’s no shame in not being able to unclog a bathroom sink yourself.
For more tips on DIY home improvement and DIY fixing, check out our home repair section.